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Fri 26 July 2019
What is the line between constructive criticism and getting berated? I think that all depends on the listener.


Throughout life, you are going to be offered advice…warranted and unwarranted. How do you handle that advice, especially when it comes in the form of criticism? When you are young and in your teenage years, you are more inclined to rebel and learn for yourself and not want to be told what to do or how you are doing it wrong. When you are old, you feel as if you have had enough life experience to know that what somebody is telling you is not anything new and that you are pretty sure you are right about what you are doing. But there is a sweet spot in the middle, when people are most open to change and taking advice. These are your wisest years because these years allow you to learn from others, try new things, make mistakes, and grow from those mistakes. The longer you can prolong this mentality, the wiser you will be.


I left off my last blog detailing how AIM began connecting students with mentors. Once we started charging students $90 to connect with mentors, we received wild success. Every student received internships, follow up meetings with their mentor, recommendations to meet other professionals in their field or a combination of those outcomes.


It was awesome to feel that AIM was truly making a positive impact on these college students. My only issue was that AIM was not making nearly enough money to sustain a business and I needed to discover a way to make AIM sustainable.


Having the realization and acceptance that your current business plan is unsustainable is not easy to accept. I met with an Indiana University alumnus who was a former investment banker and recruiter for JP Morgan Chase. He ripped my business model apart…to shreds…no mercy. I could have gotten angry and hung up the phone, but I realized there was a silver lining.


First, I learned that most people are not inherently mean and their goal is not to berate you. Second, in every conversation, there is always a nugget of beneficial information that can be learned.


What this alumnus mentioned was that despite mentorship being beneficial, AIM would not be sustainable and that most college graduates entering the business world lacked soft skills and emotional intelligence (which he argued were as important as mentorship). He said that if a company could figure out a way to teach these skills and include a mentoring aspect that JP Morgan Chase and most other companies would be very intrigued in paying money to connect with the students AIM helped.


In essence, I learned a way to monetize AIM outside of the students and not purely that my current business plan sucked. I learned that despite Indiana University’s best efforts to teach soft skills and emotional intelligence, those are just skills that are very personal and difficult to measure with grades. It also requires a certain motivation level and desire of the student to want to learn and develop these skills too.


When these courses that teach soft skills and emotional intelligence are required, the motivation of the student diminishes significantly because they never had a choice of whether or not to take the class.


AIM pivoted to provide students who voluntarily purchased access to enroll in workshops that taught soft skills and emotional intelligence, connected students with mentors, and then with employment opportunities after they understood themselves well enough to gauge a better idea of what they wanted out of their career.


Most people don’t voluntarily try to bring others down. Most people inherently want to help others out because they derive the pleasure of feeling valued and special when they can share their wisdom. Realize that when others are criticizing you, they may have a point, so don’t take it as a personal attack, but rather embrace it, learn from it, and maybe build a positive relationship.

Fri 19 July 2019
Author Walter Brunell once wrote “Failure is the tuition you pay for success.” I like starting my blogs with a quote because…why not commemorate someone else’s instance of brilliance with a citation?


I especially like this quote because it directly relates to how I left off my last blog…turning to Indiana University and falling flat on my face! The combination of failure with a collegiate reference is the perfect storm of irony and truth.


To refresh your memory, the problems I saw were college students taking way too many classes without any clarity on what to major in and college students throwing a random dart at which career to pursue because their major was not giving them clarity on their career. This seems to me like such an obvious problem in student development today that nobody seems to be able to solve.


It feels as if society is a parent and college students are their child and going to college is like dropping your kid in the pool for the first time and watching them flail around aimlessly for breath. Sure, this is fine and cute when you are talking about $20 swim lessons…but when these college “swim lessons” run up your tab to the tune of $20,000+ a semester, it’s not so cute and novel anymore.


The issue is that it feels as if American society has normalized confusion for what a person should do from the ages 18-22. I feel that this confusion should either be less normalized or that college should be cheaper so then the consequences of being confused in college are minimized. With the high cost of getting a college degree, attending college with confusion can be a gamble. Yes, I said it, going to college with confusion can be considered a GAMBLE! Sure, administrators who went to college 20+ years ago may disagree with me because when they went to college A) they could afford to pay for their tuition out of their own pocket (which now seems as if it is impossible to even imagine paying for college without loans, your parents, or scholarship) and B) when you are paying for college (even a little) out of your own pocket, you have skin in the game. This forces you, as the student, to think “wow, am I really ready for college because this is a lot of cash that I am dropping?” This then leads to the clarity of “I am ready for college, I have researched what I am going to major in, and I am pretty confident that I can accomplish my goal of getting a degree in 4 years” or “No, I am not ready. I think I am going to work/travel/soul search for a little bit and then maybe come back to college.”


This is what SHOULD happen in a perfect world. However, the world is not perfect.


REVELATION: All people are different and some people learn and develop at their own pace! And guess what, college is not meant for everyone at age 18…BAZINGA!


So what happens to those 18 year olds that do not know what they want to do entering college?


First, there are more students than advisors. Like significantly more! Imagine 40,000 students to 150 advisors…yikes! Advisors cannot possibly give students the individualized attention that they need to truly make an educated decision on their degree path.


My initial thought to combat this problem was to help college students clarify what their hobbies and interests were and how that could correlate to a major. This was my original idea for Ambition In Motion.


However, at this time I was 21 years old and no parent was going to pay me, a person without any credible accolades, any money to help their child figure out their degree path. It was like “hey, I can help your child figure out their degree path” and the parents saying “have you even figured out your own degree path?…touché”.


I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my degree path and had a good idea of where I would like my career to go and I knew that I had the skills and experience to help their child, but convincing a parent when you are 21 that you can help their child with their degree (to them at least) is like a fish telling us that he convinced a shark not to eat him. It is just tough for the parents to believe it.


Even if I could convince a parent to pay me to help their child out with their degree path, very few students are motivated to participate in something that their parents made them do. “I loved and was super motivated to do that thing my parents forced me to do”…said no one ever.


So how did I handle this failure? I will let you know in my next blog post.


In terms of this blog post title, college really is not meant for everyone, certainly not everyone at age 18. If you are a student, realize that your parents, friends, family, and everyone else in society just wants you to be happy without impeding on their happiness (i.e. on a professional level of pursuing a career/lifestyle that you don’t have to move back in with your parents to things on a personal level like not keeping your neighbors up all night because you want to blast music at 3:00 in the morning). If you are everyone else in society, try to hold back judgment of those who are pursuing their life in a different way than you did, foresee yourself to, or think that everyone else should. Those people who are pursuing the road less traveled should not be chastised and thought of destined for immortal doom because they are not doing it the way everyone else is. We, as society, love to value those who “made it” via the road less traveled, yet, we love to rebuke those who are on a less traveled road whom haven’t quite “made it” to their destination yet.


Let’s support those who are doing things a little differently :).

Fri 28 June 2019
Professor Leonard Bernstein once wrote, “Inspiration is wonderful when it happens, but the writer must develop an approach for the rest of the time.” I kind of feel the opposite of this right now, as if I am not as good of a writer when I AM inspired. I had an epiphany last night to write a blog post for Ambition In Motion (AIM) on how everything began. I woke up this morning super inspired to write…just to write this post and get feedback that it was way too “listy” and “not engaging enough.” So here is my attempt at making this blog post more engaging.


Ambition In Motion (AIM) started in Bloomington, Indiana in May of 2013. Why is this important to you? To be totally honest, because the more specific verbiage I use in my blog posts, the higher the AIM website will pop up when students/employers/mentors/anyone else keyword searches something semi-relevant to AIM in Google. Also, because I thought that you might be interested in how AIM got started. I have been asked a surprisingly many times how AIM got started so I figured that I would convey that story in a blog post.



So I was working with this student organization called CLEAR in Fall of 2012 and Spring of 2013 and I wanted to improve participation. We had some consistent members, but would randomly receive a stark drop in participation and I had no clue why. It is crazy because this would happen in random, yet consistent spurts. Periodically, younger students would take more credit hours because they had no idea what degree they wanted to major. These kids were spending a ridiculous amount of time studying to get good grades, while receiving little clarity on what they wanted their degree to be. SHOCKER ALERT: what you like now as a freshman will change as you get older and the classes that you take as a freshman have little correlation to the classes that you will take as a senior, BOOM! I know that this may read crass and sarcastic (which it is), but sadly, this information is not obvious to everyone. Even worse, the answer to the million dollar question of “what should I major in?” isn’t obvious either.



We also received large drops in participation from the older students who had no clue what career they wanted to pursue. Many of these older students accumulated a bunch of credits in a major area and just decided “well, I guess I will major in this!” without lending any credence to what career they might be interested in pursuing. This is the effect to the cause of “well I guess I should take every 100 level class in every degree area and go from there and accumulate credits in totally random fields so then I can ‘figure it out’”. 2 years later they haven’t figured it out and their parents say “son, I am cutting you off after your 4th year of college…SO FIGURE IT OUT!” The student then freaks out and says “well, I guess I will major in this!” The student’s parents come back to him and ask “so what are you going to do with your life when you graduate? Because you sure aren’t going to be moving back in with us!” The student is like, …gulp…”I don’t know yet but I will be looking for a job.” Students like this then attend every career fair imaginable, treating it like a job buffet and dropping their resume off at every booth.


I saw students taking way too many classes without any clarity and students throwing a random dart at which career to pursue as a problem. NEWS FLASH: Most careers do not have a linear correlation from the perceived career from a certain degree path (i.e. a career as an economist from a degree in economics). I originally started helping incoming college students gain some clarity on which major to choose. I saw this as a good solution because this would help students minimize their student loan debt due to less wasted semesters, have a definitive answer when talking to their parents, and have more time to participate in extracurricular activities like CLEAR. I turned to Indiana University for help in this issue and fell flat on my face.


So what did I end up finding out from Indiana University? I will explain further in my next blog post.


In terms of a response to the title of this blog post, it doesn’t really matter what degree you pursue, because that has no bearing on your career. Believe in yourself and do what makes you happy. Don’t waste your time stressed in classes. College is meant to be a learning experience…so LEARN and don’t stress.